Christopher Trace


Christopher Trace
Christopher Leonard Trace

Christopher Trace on Blue Peter
Born 21 March 1933(1933-03-21)
Hambledon, Surrey, England
Died 5 September 1992(1992-09-05) (aged 59)
Tower Hamlets, London, England
Cause of death Throat cancer
Known for Original Blue Peter presenter with Leila Williams

Christopher Leonard Trace (21 March 1933 – 5 September 1992) was an English actor and television presenter, best remembered for his nine years as a presenter of the BBC children's programme Blue Peter.

Contents

Career

Trace was born the youngest of three children, born to Edith (née Morley) and Lawrence Archibald Trace. Trace had two older siblings, Ann and David Morley Trace. After a working as a farm labourer, Trace joined the British Army where he studied at Sandhurst and received a commission in the Royal Regiment of Artillery in 1953.[1] He was promoted to Lieutenant in February 1955,[2] but resigned his commission in September 1956.[3]

Trace then had a relatively undistinguished acting career – his greatest screen role being Charlton Heston's body double in Ben-Hur.[4] But he then found fame as the very first presenter of Blue Peter on 16 October 1958, and stayed with the programme until 24 July 1967. According to the BBC, he got the job as presenter because he bonded with producer John Hunter Blair over their shared love of model railways.[4]

By 1967, the Blue Peter production team were beginning to find Trace hard to deal with and were looking to replace him on the show,[5] particularly when his wife divorced him for having an affair[6] with a 19-year-old hotel receptionist[7][8] during a 1965 Blue Peter 'culture-embracing' summer expedition to Norway.[9] Trace often threatened to resign and once the production team were happy that viewers had accepted John Noakes as a member of the team, Trace's next resignation was accepted.[10]

He became a writer and Production Manager for a film company named Spectator which failed, losing him a considerable amount of money.[11] He was declared bankrupt in 1973,[7] then returned to the BBC, first on local television in East Anglia and then on the acclaimed network TV programme Nationwide. Later in 1974 he was the first presenter on "Roundabout East Anglia" on BBC Radio 4 VHF for the Eastern Counties.

By the mid-1970s, he had retired from the media, and briefly worked behind the bar of a pub in Norwich before becoming general manager of an engineering factory, where he lost two toes in an accident.[6] On Blue Peter’s 20th anniversary in 1978 he appeared on the show and the factory shut for the day so that the workforce could watch his appearance.[12] On the show, without warning anyone in advance, he announced that he wanted to give an Outstanding Endeavour Award. The award became an annual Blue Peter event.[4] In the 1980s he worked in the press office of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA). In the 1990s, he briefly returned to the BBC to guest on and later host the nostalgia series Are You Sitting Comfortably? on Radio 2.

Death

Trace died in 1992 from cancer of the oesophagus while living in Walthamstow. For the last five years of his life, he had a special friendship with Susi Felton, who was a great support to him during his fatal illness.[13] Valerie Singleton, Biddy Baxter and Edward Barnes visited Trace in hospital just days before his death.

Quotations

During his time on Blue Peter, the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography credits him with coining two quotations now prominent in British popular culture: the line "And now for something completely different" – later taken up by, and usually attributed to, Monty Python – was used as a segue to different parts of the programme; and "Here's one I made earlier" was used during the construction of models on the show, and has since been adopted by nearly all subsequent presenters on Blue Peter.[14]

References

  1. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39809. p. 1716. 24 March 1953. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
  2. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40400. p. 774. 4 February 1955. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
  3. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 40879. p. 5284. 14 September 1956. Retrieved 2009-08-08.
  4. ^ a b c "BBC online Blue Peter trivia page". http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/classic/bluepeter/earlyyears/trivia.shtml. 
  5. ^ "Blue Peter" 50th Anniversary Book: The Story of Television's Longest-running Children's Programme. Hamlyn ISBN 978-0600617938
  6. ^ a b "New Statesman, 8 September 2003". http://www.newstatesman.com/200309080037. 
  7. ^ a b "Daily Mirror, 16 March 2007". http://www.mirror.co.uk/showbiz/tm_headline=blue-peter--the-dark-side&method=full&objectid=18762596&siteid=89520-name_page.html. 
  8. ^ "'The A-Z of Blue Peter in The Independent, 12 March 2005". London. 12 March 2005. http://news.independent.co.uk/media/article5889.ece. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  9. ^ "The Independent, 30 August 2003". http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4158/is_20030830/ai_n12708569. [dead link]
  10. ^ Marson, Richard (21 September 2008). "Blue Peter" 50th Anniversary Book: The Story of Television's Longest-running Children's Programme. Hamlyn. ISBN 9780600617938. 
  11. ^ "BBC online biography of Trace". http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/classic/blue_peter/presenters/trace.shtml. 
  12. ^ "BBC online biography of Trace". http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/classic/bluepeter/presenters/trace.shtml. 
  13. ^ Baxter, Biddy (8 September 1992). "Independent obituary". The Independent (London). http://www.independent.co.uk/news/people/obituary-christopher-trace-1550064.html. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 
  14. ^ Ezard, John (8 October 2005). "Now something different - which was made earlier". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/oct/08/johnezard.uknews2. Retrieved 30 April 2010. 

Sources

  • Alistair McGown, "Trace, Christopher Leonard (1933–1992)", Oxford Dictionary Of National Biography, online edition, Oxford University Press, Oct 2005; online edn, May 2006 accessed 10 June 2006

External links

Preceded by
none
Blue Peter Presenter No. 1
1958-67
Succeeded by
Peter Purves

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